The plumbing profession stands as one of the most meticulously regulated fields in the United States. Every state mandates licensing requirements for both journeyman and master plumbers, although the specific criteria and examinations differ from one state to another.

California’s Stringent Requirements
In the dynamic landscape of California, embarking on a plumbing career demands adherence to rigorous regulations. To work as a plumber in the state, you must possess a state contractor’s license. The Plumbing Contractor license falls under the C-36 classification and is granted by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board (CSLB). This license is compulsory for any plumbing work valued at $500 or more. You can conveniently access the license application process online through the CSLB – California Contractor’s License Application site.

Qualification Criteria:

  1. A documented four years of experience at the journeyman level or in roles such as foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder.
  2. Submission of a $25,000 bond.
  3. Successful completion of the business exam and a trade exam.

Furthermore, if you intend to engage in tasks involving the installation or removal of underground storage tanks or other hazardous substance removal work, you must obtain a Hazardous Substance Removal Certification, earned through an examination.

To verify a contractor’s license status, anyone can utilize the CSLB’s automated phone system by calling 1-800-321-2752 and following the prompts.

License Renewal Insights
In California, your plumbing license necessitates renewal every two years. About two months before the expiry date, you should receive a renewal application from the CSLB. The expiration date can be located on your license pocket card or via the CSLB’s California plumber license lookup tool. A renewal fee of $450 is applicable for sole owners, while non-sole owners need to pay $700.

Reciprocity Agreements
California maintains reciprocity agreements with Arizona, Louisiana, and Nevada for plumbing licensure. The C-36 classification in California corresponds to various license classifications in Arizona. Plumbers with these corresponding licenses in the aforementioned states may seek reciprocity with California, provided their licenses have remained active and in good standing for the past five years. The Request for Verification of License form should be completed and submitted along with the application.

Although approved reciprocal licensees are usually exempt from the trade exam, they must still take the law and business exam.

For California contractors seeking reciprocity in other states, they must request the reciprocity form from the respective state and ensure it’s forwarded to CSLB.

Exploring Plumbing Regulations Further
For a deeper dive into the intricacies of plumbing regulations and their implications, visit Should you find this article enlightening and wish to continue receiving insights from SoCal Plumbers, consider signing up!

SoCal Plumbers